Systems, systems, systems! Repeat that mantra over and over and you still won’t have systems, but you might get a headache. How many times have you heard that putting systems in place at your business will help things run more smoothly and make your life easier? I have heard this a lot through the years, and as a business owner I believe it is true that good systems are needed to be successful. So how do you implement systems that work?
Let’s use an example to illustrate my tips. Our example will be to create a system for checking the oil in trucks and equipment.
- Get input from your team: By getting your team involved in creating the system, you will get more buy-in from them when it’s time to put the system into practice. Get together for a brainstorming session and ask questions like: Why do we need a system for checking oil? What would be the best time to check the oil? Is there a particular person who should be in charge of checking the oil? How will we make sure we have oil on hand when we need it? And so on.
- Make it simple: Once you have established what you want to accomplish, then you need to narrow it down to as simple a process as possible.
- Write it down: First you will need to write down what the system is going to be. So, for our example it might be: “All foremen will be trained on how to properly check and fill oil. Foremen should check and fill oil as needed in all power equipment and trucks every morning prior to leaving the shop between 7:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. Foremen will be required to fill out an oil check form and turn it in at the end of the week along with their paperwork.”
- List the steps: Post a list that explains the oil checking system. Add pictures. Include the type of oil to use—for instance, the trucks may use a different type of oil than the mowers. You can also add pictures of where the dip sticks are located and reminders to tighten the dip sticks when finished. This list will be a good reference and reminder for foremen, but it should not be a substitute for training them on how to check the oil. Also, create the form the foremen should fill out.
- Training: After the system is developed, train your team to perform the task. Training should be done in accordance with the written system so it can be performed the same way every time. In this case, the best person to train your team on the oil checking system would be either a mechanic or the most mechanically inclined person at your company. Use equipment and truck manual information to help train your team and develop the system.
- Sustaining the system: In order for any system to work, it needs to be sustainable. In our example, the form needs to be reviewed either by a manager or the owner to make sure the system is being used every day. The foremen need to be held accountable for adhering to the system. Some incentives might be to let them know the systems are tied to raises and promotions.
Creating and implementing systems takes time and effort, but in the long run they can save a lot of time and help your operation run more smoothly, with less mistakes, and with employees having a better understanding of what is expected of them.
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